In an effort to continue normalization of U.S./Cuban relations, President Obama used an administrative rule change to end a longstanding policy that allows Cubans who set foot on “dry” U.S. soil to become a legal resident, according to the AP.
Of the move to end the “wet foot, dry foot” policy first initiated by Bill Clinton in 1995, a statement from Obama reads:
“Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities. By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea.”
Though Cuba is in favor of the change, it first had to agree to accept repatriations of people who arrive in the U.S., something it had not done before.
Yes, you read that right … the Obama administration is actually getting tough on immigration. The policy shift had social media rife with speculation and commentary:
— Contented Kimmie (@kimmieguy) January 12, 2017
OK, sure, a major segment of anti-communist Cuban-Americans have historically voted Republican (although younger Cubans are starting to lean Dem), and there is also the fact that communist Cuba itself has worked for and is currently praising this policy change. But still, it’s an interesting move from someone who seemingly wants to fill the United States with as many Third World immigrants as possible.
POTUS would've kept the "wet foot, dry foot" policy in place, but we couldn't get assurances from Havana that they'd only send Democrats.
— Josh Earnst (@NotJoshEarnest) January 12, 2017
Of Donald Trump’s likelihood of undoing the new rule next week, the AP writes:
Donald Trump could undo that rule after becoming president next week. He has criticized Obama’s moves to improve relations with Cuba. But ending a policy that has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to come to the United States without a visa also aligns with Trump’s commitment to tough immigration policies.
The AP also reported the terms of the agreement:
Under the terms of the agreement, Cuba has agreed to take back those turned away from the U.S., if the time between their departure from Cuba and the start of deportation hearings in the U.S. is four years or less. Officials said the timeframe is required under a Cuban law enacted after Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act.
“For this to work, the Cubans had to agree to take people back,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.
Administration officials called on Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Officials said the changes would not affect a lottery that allows 20,000 Cubans to come to the U.S. legally each year. But Rhodes cast the shift as a necessary step toward Cuba’s economic and political development.
“It’s important that Cuba continue to have a young, dynamic population that are clearly serving as agents of change,” he said.
The real question is, would President Obama have made this move if Cuba were a Muslim country? I think we all know the answer to that!
Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
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